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  • Always use both shoulder straps. Slinging a backpack over one shoulder can strain muscles. Wearing a backpack on one shoulder may increase curvature of the spine.  
  • Tighten the straps so that the pack is close to the body. The straps should hold the pack two inches above the waist.  
  • Pack light. The backpack should never weigh more than 10 to 20 percent of the student's total body weight.  
  • Organize the backpack to use all of its compartments. Pack heavier items closest to the center of the backpack.  
  • Stop often at school lockers, if possible. Do not carry all of the books needed for the day.  
  • Bend using both knees, when you bend down. Do not bend over at the waist when wearing or lifting a heavy backpack.

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Source: American Academy of Pediatrics.
NOTE: The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.Yes, it’s true. Kids can suffer from back aches and pain, just like adults. Oftentimes it can result from something they rely on every day: their school backpack!

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Yes, it’s true. Kids can suffer from back aches and pain, just like adults. Oftentimes it can result from something they rely on every day: their school backpack!

While backpacks are both popular and practical for carrying schoolbooks and supplies they can become too heavy for a child’s small and still developing body.  Especially when they are worn incorrectly. That can lead to muscle and join injuries for children and teens.  Not only that, left uncorrected or treated, your child can develop severe back, neck, shoulder pain and posture problems.


Use and Share these guidelines to keep your child safe and healthy…


  • Look for wide, padded shoulder straps — Narrow straps can dig into shoulders. This can cause pain and restrict circulation.  
  • Two shoulder straps — Backpacks with one shoulder strap that runs across the body cannot distribute weight evenly.  
  • Padded back — A padded back protects against sharp edges on objects inside the pack and increases comfort.  
  • Waist strap — A waist strap can distribute the weight of a heavy load more evenly.  
  • Lightweight backpack — The backpack itself should not add much weight to the load.  
  • Rolling backpack — This type of backpack may be a good choice for students who must tote a heavy load. Remember that rolling backpacks still must be carried upstairs. They may be difficult to roll in snow

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Backpacks Can Lead to Back Pain and Injuries.
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Ask Your Pediatrician for Advice  

Parents also can help in the following ways:  


  • Encourage your child or teenager to tell you about pain or discomfort that may be caused by a heavy backpack. Do not ignore any back pain in a child or teenager. Ask your pediatrician for advice.  
  • Talk to the school about lightening the load. Be sure the school allows students to stop at their lockers throughout the day. Team up with other parents to encourage changes.  
  • Ask your pediatrician, school nurse, and school physical education instructor to show your child a few back-strengthening exercises to help build up the muscles they use to carry their backpack.
  • Consider buying a second set of textbooks for your student to keep at home.     

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